Eight years after Massachusetts passed an unworkable and overly-restrictive direct shipping bill, and four years since the same law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court, Bay State legislators finally passed a workable direct wine shipping law that will allow out-of-state and in-state wineries to ship wine directly to state residents. The new law was included in the 2014 budget bill (see page 257), and was signed by Governor Deval Patrick this morning. Set to go into effect on January 1, 2015, the new wine shipping law will make both wineries and Massachusetts wine lovers overjoyed.
Massachusetts is ranked among the most important states that still had not passed winery direct shipping law. Massachusetts is particularly important given the size of its population and its residents’ love of wine. Only four states have higher per capita consumption rates for wine than Massachusetts.
The new direct shipping law, passed as part of the 2015 fiscal year budget, provides the following conditions for shippers:
- Only bonded wineries may apply for a direct shipping permit
- Direct Shipping License Fee: $300/winery (separate permits required for each “affiliate, franchise or subsidiary”)
- Direct Shipping License Annual Renewal Fee: $150
- Shipments limited to twelve 9-liter cases per purchaser in a calendar year
- Reports to the state must be remitted annually
- Excise Taxes must be remitted on each sale
Over the next six months, the Massachusetts Alcohol Beverage Control Commission will be responsible for creating and making available license applications for direct shippers. We will report here on those developments as well as any others that impact direct shippers.